Difference Between Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 14, 2022


Difference Between Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide Difference Between Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide

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There are two types of air: carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. They are both distinct from one another. They differ in their qualities and attributes. They can be distinguished into monoxide and dioxide depending on the amount of oxygen.

Despite sharing the same components of carbon and oxygen, carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2) are very different from one another. The proportion of carbon and oxygen atoms in each makes a general distinction between the two. Compared to carbon dioxide, which has one carbon and two oxygen atoms, carbon monoxide only has one carbon and one oxygen atom.

The natural amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is 0.041%. Humans and several other living things breathe, which releases CO2 into the atmosphere. During photosynthesis, plants consume carbon dioxide from the environment to create nourishment in the form of carbohydrates. Carbon monoxide, on the other hand, is a poisonous gas. As it accumulates, it causes suffocation (CO poisoning). Carbon monoxide is produced when coal and other fossil fuels are not completely burned (due to a lack of oxygen).

Carbon Monoxide vs. Carbon Dioxide

The quantity of oxygen they contain is the primary distinction between carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. One oxygen atom and one carbon atom are combined to form carbon monoxide. Simply put, carbon dioxide is made up of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. They have a variety of sensing mechanisms. While carbon dioxide uses infrared sensors for sensing, carbon monoxide uses electrochemical agents.

Carbon monoxide is a lethal poisonous gas that does not occur naturally. Carbon monoxide's molecular name is CO. Colorless and odourless, carbon monoxide is a gas. The density of carbon monoxide is somewhat lower than that of air, and it is combustible.

Carbon monoxide is a compound made up of a single carbon atom and a single oxygen atom. It belongs to the family of oxocarbons. Carbonyl is the name given to the coordination complex formed by the carbon and oxygen atoms.

A gas called carbon dioxide is found in the atmosphere on a regular basis. A single carbon atom and two oxygen atoms come together to form carbon dioxide. Covalent bonds are used to describe the bond that exists between the carbon and oxygen atoms in carbon dioxide. Acidic and invisible, carbon dioxide is a trace gas. The atmosphere is now absorbing carbon dioxide at a rate of 412rpm. Volcanoes, geysers, carbonate rocks, and plants all emit carbon dioxide.

Difference Between Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide in Tabular Form

Table: Carbon Monoxide vs. Carbon Dioxide
Parameter of Comparison
Carbon Monoxide
Carbon Dioxide
Molecular mass
Carbon monoxide has a molecular weight of 28.01 g/mol.
 Carbon dioxide has a molecular weight of 44 g/mol.
Molecular formula
CO is the chemical symbol for carbon monoxide.
Carbon dioxide's chemical formula is CO2.
The gas carbon monoxide is combustible.
A gas that is not flammable is carbon dioxide.
Molar mass
Carbon monoxide has a molar mass of 28.010 g/mol.
Carbon dioxide has a molar mass of 44.009 g/mol.
Solubility in water
Saturation in water
Carbon monoxide dissolves in water at a rate of 27.6 mg/L.
Carbon dioxide dissolves in water at a rate of 1.45 g/L.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

Thermal combustion produces carbon monoxide, and there are also a lot of important biological resources accessible. It serves as a key component or essential source in medicines and perfumes. Carbon monoxide is the essential component for manufacturing in industries. Numerous creatures, including people, are involved in the generation of carbon monoxide. Climate change is also significantly influenced by carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide emissions have a negative impact on the atmosphere.

There is a crucial role for carbon monoxide in biological processes. A low carbon monoxide concentration will function as a neurotransmitter, whilst a large quantity will function as a harmful inhibitor. When carbon monoxide and cyanide combine, isoelectricity results. Other names for carbon monoxide include carbonous oxide, kohlenoxyd, and carboneum oxgenisatum. It is also known as fuel gas, lighting gas, and water gas.

Breathing a break is a kind of carbon monoxide poisoning. Headaches, chest discomfort, and vomiting are brought on by it because it affects your central nervous system. Carbon monoxide has a molar mass of 28.010 g/mol. The boiling point of carbon monoxide is 191.5 °C, while its melting point is 205.02 °C. At 609 °C, the carbon monoxide will spontaneously ignite.

What is Carbon Dioxide?

Due to its solubility in water, carbon dioxide may also be found in lakes and oceans. It can also be found in gasoline and natural gas. It produces a soda taste and is an odourless gas. Carbon dioxide is the fundamental energy source for life on earth. Even the breath of humans contains carbon dioxide. Photosynthetic organisms manage the carbon dioxide equilibrium in the environment. Plants breathe in carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen, balancing the carbon cycle.

Carbon dioxide is emitted during the decomposition process. Animals that are aerobic breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Wood burns, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. By adding additional plants, the different gases emitted from diverse sources are balanced. CO2 is used as an inert gas in welding and other industrial operations. In industries, it serves as a pressurising gas. Drinking water and drinks often have carbon dioxide added.

As a refrigerant or for dry ice blasting, frozen carbon dioxide is employed. Carbon dioxide is a persistent greenhouse gas found in the earth's atmosphere. Global warming may result from increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations brought on by deforestation. Ocean acidification is a result of carbon dioxide dissolving in water and producing carbonic acid. Carbon dioxide has a molar mass of 44.009 g mol. Other names for carbon dioxide include carbonic anhydride and carbon dioxide.

The Main Differences Between Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide in Points

  • In carbon dioxide, the bond between the carbon and oxygen atoms is 116.3 pm, whereas it is 112.8 pm in carbon monoxide.
  • In contrast to carbon dioxide, which has a covalent link between the carbon and oxygen atoms, carbon monoxide has a triple covalent bond, also known as a coordinate covalent bond.
  • In contrast to carbon dioxide, which is naturally present in the atmosphere, carbon monoxide does not.
  • While carbon dioxide affects your respiratory system, carbon monoxide affects your central nervous system.
  • Carbon dioxide has a molecular mass of 44 g/mol, whereas carbon monoxide has a molecular mass of 28.01 g/mol.

Where does carbon dioxide come from?

The end product of complete burning is carbon dioxide. A hydrocarbon and oxygen undergo complete combustion, which results in the production of carbon dioxide and water. A flame is frequently (but not always) a part of complete combustion. When you watch a candle burn, you are seeing total combustion because candle wax is a hydrocarbon that combines with oxygen in the air and the heat from the burning wick. The carbon dioxide is discharged into the atmosphere as a gas that has no colour or smell. It is a mainly non-reactive gas that swiftly disperses throughout the environment after being discharged.Industrial operations also result in the production of carbon dioxide. Some of the biggest commercial producers of carbon dioxide are industrial facilities that use coal, natural gas, or large-scale fermentation processes to make hydrogen or ammonia. The food and beverage industry uses carbon dioxide for a variety of purposes, including carbonating beverages.

Where does carbon monoxide come from?

On the other hand, incomplete combustion leads to carbon monoxide. When there is a shortage of air, incomplete combustion occurs. As a result, only half as much oxygen is added to the carbon, resulting in the formation of carbon monoxide (CO), where CO2 is made up of two oxygen atoms).

Carbon monoxide does not naturally arise in the atmosphere like carbon dioxide does. It is produced when coal, natural gas, and oil are burned inefficiently. Carbon monoxide is produced in the combustion mixture as a result of low oxygen levels and low temperatures.

Any fuel-burning device, including gas furnaces, gas stoves, gas dryers, gas water heaters, fireplaces, and vehicles, can emit dangerous quantities of carbon monoxide. Without gas detectors, you cannot distinguish it since it is a colourless and odourless gas.

The main source of carbon monoxide in industrial environments is the internal combustion engine. Large volumes of gas are produced by several furnaces and ovens, especially when they are not well maintained. People operating close to this equipment, such as forklift operators or truck drivers, are more susceptible to exposure. Workers who work in or in confined places, such as manholes, garages, tunnels, loading docks, warehouses, auto body shops, and splicing yards, are also at danger.

Despite being a typically undesirable by-product, packed carbon monoxide is employed in a wide range of sectors, including the production of metal carbonyls, chemical manufacture, medicine, electronic and semiconductor applications, and electronic and semiconductor devices.

How to Measure Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide using Gas Detectors?

A single-gas carbon monoxide detector will not monitor carbon dioxide levels, and the opposite is also true when picking an industrial gas detector for the workplace. For each gas, there is a corresponding sensor. The good news is that you have a variety of choices, including personal single-gas monitors, multi-gas monitors, and area monitors, when it comes to the finest gas detector for monitoring carbon monoxide and/or carbon dioxide. You must be aware of the surroundings and the characteristics of the gas or gases you'll be monitoring in order to select the appropriate instrument.


Plants use carbon dioxide during the process of photosynthesis to create food. This implies that plantations can limit the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The more plants there are, the more carbon dioxide will be taken in.

In addition, CO2 is employed as dry ice (a refrigerant), in fire extinguishers, to blow up life jackets and rafts, blast coal, foam rubber and plastics, encourage plant growth in greenhouses, and in carbonated beverages.On the other hand, CO is mostly utilised in industrial processes, such as oxo-synthesis, which produces enormous amounts of aldehydes. In order to recover pure metal from a naturally occurring metal oxide, such as iron (Fe), carbon monoxide is further utilised as a reducing agent.

Health Risks from Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide

Although carbon dioxide poisoning is uncommon, it can be dangerous when present in large quantities in a small area. An environment conducive to asphyxiation is created when too much carbon dioxide occupies space in the atmosphere rather than oxygen. At concentrations lower than 30,000 ppm, headaches and dizziness are signs of moderate carbon dioxide poisoning. The concentration of CO2 can be fatal at 80,000 ppm. For comparison, the CO2 acceptable exposure limit (PEL) has been set by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) at 5,000 ppm over an eight-hour period and 30,000 ppm over a ten-minute period.

A gas that is much more deadly is carbon monoxide. As a colourless, odourless, tasteless, and non-irritating gas known as the "Silent Killer," carbon monoxide is very difficult to detect in the early stages of poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 50,000 Americans visit hospitals for carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms each year, and over 430 of them pass away as a result. ([3] Because it clings to the oxygen-carrying components of your blood, carbon monoxide chemically prevents your body and organs from acquiring the oxygen they require.Compared to the PEL for carbon dioxide, the current OSHA acceptable exposure limit (PEL) for carbon monoxide is 50 ppm averaged over eight hours. 1500 ppm is the exposure threshold that is deemed immediately hazardous to life and health (IDLH).


There are two different kinds of gases: carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. While carbon dioxide is a dangerous gas, carbon monoxide is regarded as having lethal toxicity. Both have unique qualities and attributes. When carbon monoxide is present in large amounts, it is more poisonous. Your respiratory system will be affected by carbon dioxide. In industries, carbon monoxide is a significant factor. The presence of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is natural. There is carbon monoxide in many species, including humans. The gas that is emitted by plants is carbon dioxide. They are both odourless and colourless gases.


  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0039602884905570
  • https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0039602880903489


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"Difference Between Carbon Monoxide and Carbon Dioxide." Diffzy.com, 2022. Sun. 02 Oct. 2022. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-carbon-monoxide-and-carbon-dioxide-1019>.

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